Mythical Traditions and Fictions:  The Rehnquist Court and United States v. Ursery

By Paul Quin, Partner, Saxon, Gilmore, Carraway & Gibbons, P.A.

The Supreme Court’s recent decision in United States v. Ursery provides further evidence that constitutionally guaranteed protections may wither in the face of a national dilemma.  Recent scholarship has copiously documented the effect of the war on drugs on the protections of the Fourth Amendment.   In Ursery, the Court demonstrated that the war on drugs would now impact one of the guarantees of the Fifth Amendment.

The Double Jeopardy Clause of the United State Constitution provides:  “Nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.”  The Supreme Court has interpreted this clause to provide protections against a second prosecution for the same offense after conviction or acquittal, and against multiple punishments for the same offense.

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